I Even Bleed Red Posted March 13, 2012 Share Posted March 13, 2012 (edited) NFL free agency: All gassed up, but no place to go5:00 am March 13, 2012, by D. Orlando LedbetterCurtis Lofton, the Falcons' leading tackler over the past four seasons, appears headed to free agency. (Curtis Compton, firstname.lastname@example.org)Arthur Blank’s charter plane – affectionately called Falcons One — is gassed up with jet fuel and ready to go.Under general manager Thomas Dimitroff, the Falcons identified their free agent targets and hit them.In 2008, Falcons One swooped in and picked up Michael Turner, the top free agent running back on the market, and signed him.In 2010, the main target was Dunta Robinson and that was done rather quickly.Last season, after the lockout, they flirted with defensive end Charles Johnson before the bidding got out of hand. The Falcons then went after and signed Ray Edwards.However, barring a flurry of cuts and contract restructures, the team will not be a major player in free agency when the league’s new business year begins at 4 p.m. today. Falcons One might just be sitting on the runway.Although fans are clamoring for the Falcons to get involved in the Mario Williams sweepstakes, the team has just enough room under the $120.6 million salary cap for the 2012 rookie class and perhaps a minor tweak or two.The Falcons have been busy getting ready for the start of the NFL’s new business year, but likely will be shifting their focus to the NFL draft, which will be held March 26-28 in New York.Dunta Robinson, after a trip on Falcons One, signed with the Falcons on March 6, 20010. (D. Orlando Ledbetter, email@example.com )Also, it appears that the Falcons will watch as some of their key players like defensive end John Abraham, middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, center Todd McClure and wide receiver Harry Douglas head to free agency.The Falcons have already completed some key moves.On Saturday, the Falcons agreed to terms with linebacker Lofa Tatupu, 29, a three-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro, move that basically signaled Lofton is headed to the open market.In addition to securing Tatupu, with a two-year deal, the Falcons re-negotiated cornerback Dunta Robinson’s contract, signed offensive guard Vince Manuwai and re-signed three veterans — defensive end Kroy Biermann, safety Thomas DeCoud and running back Jason Snelling — over the past week.“They have a great quarterback and a running back,” said Manuwai, who sat out last season after playing eight seasons in Jacksonville. “As an [offensive] lineman, this is a good situation.”Manuwai is set to compete for the starting right guard spot.On Friday, the Falcons worked out Tatupu, who’s 6-foot, 250 pounds. The former Seattle linebacker did not play last season because of injury problems.He will compete with second-year man Akeem Dent for the starting spot. The Falcons could use Dent in running situations and Tatupu on third downs.The Falcons were ranked 29th in the NFL in third-down defense last season. Tatupu has 10 career interceptions.Tatupu has a history of knee and concussion problems. He did not play in the league last season, reportedly because of his knee problems.Robinson re-negotiated his contract with the team to provide them with $1.55 million in salary-cap space in 2012. On Jan. 25, Robinson’s cap-value number for 2012 was $7.55 million. He cap number is now $6 million.Manuwai, 6-foot-2, 335 pounds, played left guard in 111 games and started in 105.Manuwai was a solid run blocker, who helped to power the Jaguars’ run game for running backs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew.He suffered a torn tendon in his ankle during the lockout and wasn’t ready to play when it ended.Last season, the Falcons mainly used Garrett Reynolds and Joe Hawley at right guard. Also, Mike Johnson, who missed most of last season with a foot injury, will compete for the spot.Manuwai played under current Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter for four seasons from 2007-10 when Koetter served as the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator.“It’s awesome because I know the offense already,” Manuwai said. “They just wanted to see me work out and make sure that I had no problems. They made the first offer, and that was it. I didn’t want to worry about looking somewhere else. To me, it wasn’t about the money.” Prospective Free AgentsJohn Abraham, DEKirk Chambers, OLHarry Douglas, WRKelvin Hayden, CBReggie Kelly, TECurtis Lofton, LBTodd McClure,OLMike Peterson, LBChris Redman, QBBrett Romberg, OLJames Sanders, SEric Weems, WRJoe Zelenka, LSVance Walker, DT — restricted Players Re-signedKroy Biermann, DE – 4 years, potentially $12 million.Thomas DeCoud, FS – 5- years, potentially $21 millionBrent Grimes, CB – Franchise tag – 1 year, $10.281 millionJason Snelling, RB – 3 years, $ 4 million.Antone Smith, RB – 1 year tenderMichael Palmer, TE – 1 year tender New playersManuwai, Vince, RG – UndisclosedTatupu, Lofa LB – 2 years. Potential targetsCarl Nicks, guard, New Orleans.Scott Wells, center, Green BayKendall Langford, defensive end, MiamiNick Hardwick, center, San DiegoMark Anderson, defensive end, New Englandhttp://blogs.ajc.com...no-where-to-go/ Edited March 13, 2012 by I Even Bleed Red Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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